PLEASE HELP me out with something. Someone explain to me why there is so much puzzlement that the Israeli government would object to the unity arrangement between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Why is this so hard to understand?
In today's Washington Post, for example, former President Jimmy Carter hails the unity accord as something that will somehow solve all the problems of the terrible and protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflice. Through a system of checks and balances, he seems to imply, the combined PA and Hamas regime will "lead to a durable cease-fire" with Israel, captured Israeli prisoners of war such as Galid Shalit will be returned home, Hamas will recognize Israel's right to exist. And so on.
"Suspicions of Hamas," Carter writes, "stem from its charter, which calls for Israel's destruction. I find the charter repugnant. Yet it is worth remembering that Israel negotiated the Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Liberation Organization while its charter had similar provisions. It took five more years before the PLO Charter was altered."
No, suspicions of Hamas stem from more than just the charter; there is also Hamas's bad habit of killing innocent people -- not just Israelis but any Palestinians who disagree with it. The charter, which so many critics of Israel often dismiss as nothing to be worried about, is only a statement in words of what Hamas is all about in deeds (which is why the charter really does matter). And Hamas has made it clear over and over - via actions and words - that it would like to kill Israelis and eliminate the State of Israel.
Also, while I was a hopeful supporter of the Oslo Accords, it's hard even for me and others like me to say that it led to an idyllic future (though we probably have a lot more to work with today than we did before the Accords). Even under Yasser Arafat's watch as the head of the PA, there were repeated murderous attacks by Palestinians against Israelis in Israel proper. Either Arafat was unwilling or unable (or both) to stop them. That ultimately undermined the Oslo Accords. Again, as important as words are, deeds count more.
Carter has, to his credit, made a lot of effort to go to the region, meet with people and study what it's all about. All the more reason why his blind spot for Hamas's criminality is shocking and puzzling. He's basically saying it's okay for a legitimate political party -- say, the Democrats or the Republicans -- to ally with Tony Soprano's organization because... well, he doesn't really say why. But he relies on some magical faith that such an alliance would clean up Tony's act, hold him in check.
My guess is that if the Sopranos had the chance to rule a government (from the inside), they'd jump at it and take advantage of the power it gives them to carry out their misdeeds. There would be no checks on their power. On the contrary, they would seize the power and it would be hard to hold them back.
One need only look to the immediate north of Israel, in Lebanon, where a similar murderous Hezbollah has strived hard -- and succeeded -- in taking control of the government there. That hasn't put a brake on Hezbollah's ambitions to go to war again some day with Israel. Indeed, the conventional wisdom is that Hezbollah has continued to arm itself for that very scenario.
"This accord should be viewed as the Palestinian contribution to the 'Arab awakening,'" Carter writes. Again, what is he thinking? The "Arab awakening" is about putting an end to the corrupt, tyrannical and immoral regimes that have oppressed their people for generations. Inviting another corrupt, tyrannical and immoral group to rule over Palestinians is exactly the opposite of what the Tunisians, Egyptians, Libyans, Syrians, Bahrainians and other Arab populations have been trying to accomplish over the last few months.
Look, I want Palestinians to live peaceful and prosperous lives. I hate what they have to live through now. Ditto the Israelis. A two-state solution is probably the only solution to this. But I don't get the logic that Hamas, even when it's supposed held in check by Fatah, will lead to this scenario. Just the opposite.